By Mike Rundell
Finally a clear evening, a great weather forecast and a full moon, the perfect storm was building for a great evening of Wildschwein hunting. It was Wednesday the 1st of August and the Reh rut was in full gear. However, I was more interested in the Wildschwein running around our hunting area. After work, I hurried home, changed into my hunting gear and headed straight out to the stand, for what I hoped to be a very successful evening.
I sat in a stand located among scrub trees and bushes surrounded by farm fields. From there, I could overlook a corn field and three Raps fields that hadn’t been harvested. The wheat and barley field were harvested and the straw was lying on the ground waiting to be bailed. I knew from experience, the straw would reflect the moonlight just like the snow in December, making perfect light conditions for a night hunt.
As dusk approached, Reh started to come out on the harvested fields. I watched two different bucks trying to court their perspective mates. The Reh were about 250 meters away and showed no interest to head in my direction. It wouldn’t have mattered if they had, tonight I was trying to bag a Wildschwein.
As the last of the sunlight faded and the evening turned to night, the moonlight basked the fields in a haze of golden twilight. Without the aid of binoculars, I was able to observe the two bucks still pursuing their quarry. If the wildschwein were moving tonight, I knew I would be able to see them. At 11:30 pm I saw a large Keiler, as he topped the hill, heading in my direction. He was about 400 meters out and showed no intention of changing his course of direction. I slowly leaned over, picked up my rifle and got ready for the shot. At 200 meters, he started to slow as he approached two fields yet to be harvested. He appeared unable to decide where he wanted to go. If he went to the right, he had a raps field he could disappear into and if he went to the left, a corn field. But, neither seemed to interest him and after a few minutes, he continued straight down the hill toward me.
I decided that if he got to a spot that I estimated was 125 meters, I would take the shot. I placed the rifle on the rest and centered the crosshairs on the moving Keiler. I was just getting ready to slip the safety off, when he unexpectedly stopped, wheeled right and disappeared into the raps field. Gone just like that! I was stunned, I hadn’t made a sound. And there was no wind, but the Keiler was gone just the same. The whole encounter had taken 15 minutes. The Keiler had gotten the best of me. Not to be deterred, I hoped that he would come out of the raps field where I could get a shot. The Reh were still on the fields and did not seem disturbed in the slightest. They continued their courting games throughout the whole encounter.
Thirty minutes passed when I heard something moving behind me in the raps field. Wildschwein and a lot of them! I slowly and quietly turned around and knelt on the bench in the stand. Where were they? They couldn’t be more than 20 meters away, but the raps were too thick. I could hear them grunting and rutting as they passed within 10 meters of my stand. The adrenaline had really kicking in, but still no shot. Then, I saw a chance. To my right the raps thinned. If they passed through that area, I would get a shot at about 30 meters. I got ready, but once again it was not to be. The wildschwein passed just beyond the perimeter of the area and continued to move in the direction of the corn field. For the next 45 minutes, I heard them snorting and rutting as they slowly moved away for my stand, in the direction of the corn field. Between the raps field and the corn was a narrow farm trail, as they approached this area, they became dead quite. Then one after another they darted across the trail disappearing into the corn, eight wildschwein in all and no shot.
I checked my watch it was 1 am. I decided to stay put and wait the wildschwein out. Surely they would make another appearance tonight, but it was not to be. As I got out of the stand at 3 am, the Reh bucks were still on the fields. They were more determined than me, I thought to myself. As I slipped behind the wheel for the drive home, I knew it was going to be a short night with work at 7 am. I also knew I couldn’t do this again on Thursday evening and hope to make it to work on Friday. But, I damn sure knew where I was going to be come Friday evening if the weather held.
As I drifted off to sleep, I thought about the Keiler and if I should have taken the shot. No, I concluded there is always another evening, another chance. I also offered a quick prayer to the weather god that the weather would hold.
Friday evening couldn’t come quick enough. I was excited and determined to get back out there and harvest a wildschwein. I relived the events of the prior evening over and over in my mind. Everything had been perfect; illumination, wind, weather. It was just one of those hunts that end in favor of the game animal. As my dad would say, “son that’s why it’s called hunting and not shooting” and he is correct.
I was the first employee out the door Friday evening. I headed straight to the hunting area, to see what work the farmers had done on the fields in the last two days. My prayers to the weather god seemed to have worked. The weather was once again perfect. As I drove into the hunting area, I could see the threshers working the raps fields in front of the stand. No! I had forgotten a prayer that the farmers harvest other fields first. Now where was I going to sit? Surely the Wildschwein had been driven out of the area. I drove up and waited until one of the threshers came by and flagged the farmer down. I climbed up on the thresher and asked if he had driven any wildschwein out of the raps fields during the harvesting. The farmer replied he had not seen any wildschwein come out of the two smaller fields in front of the stand. If there were any Wildschwein in the area, they would surely be in the larger field behind the stand. I asked him when he would be starting on the larger field. He replied “in an hour, but I won’t be able to finish it all tonight.” OK, still a chance I thought to myself. Maybe the thresher can push the wildschwein out in my direction. I asked the farmer how he planned to cut the field. He said he would make two passes around the entire perimeter, to allow room to turn. He would then start at the lower side, behind the stand and work towards the woods. I asked if he could reverse that and start up by the woods and work towards the stand. I wanted to be in the stand and have a chance to harvest any wildschwein that may come busting out. He agreed, and we shook hands. I told him I would be back in an hour. He responded with a robust “Waidmannsheil”. “Waidmannsheil”, I answered back and hurried off, so I could be back in an hour.
When I got back to the area ready for another eventful evening of wildschwein hunting, I observed that the farmer had already made two passes around the field. If the field had been like this on Wednesday evening, I would have easily seen all eight wildschwein as they passed the stand. I was pumped up, tonight was the night. The thresher was emptying the harvested raps into a trailer as I climbed into the stand. I waved at the farmer and he waved back. I was ready and the scene was set. The only thing missing were the main characters, the wildschwein, to appear stage left, right or center. It was 7 pm and the waiting game had begun.
The first hour passed and the only thing to come out of the raps field had been one lone fox. It definitely was moving out and didn’t like the fact that the field was being cut. Normally, I would have heard the fox as it ran through the raps, but with the noise of the thresher, I couldn’t hear anything else. I realized I better scan the edge of the field left and right a bit quicker than I had been doing. The fox was 20 meters in the open, moving out when I first spotted him. If it had been a Wildschwein, that wouldn’t have given me much time to react and get a shot off.
At 8:30 pm as I was looking left along the edge of the raps, I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye. I turned to see a Reh buck standing broadside at about 75 meters, staring at the thresher in the raps field.” Just a Reh” I said to myself and went back to scanning the edge of the field. I was waiting for the wildschwein to come busting out. As I scanned back left I noticed the buck was moving toward the scrub. He still hadn’t noticed me, all his attention was directed at the thresher working the raps field. As I watched the buck, I noticed he was what I thought, was a respectable 6 point. If he was still there as it started getting darker, maybe I would shoot. But, for the moment I really wanted to take a wildschwein. At 9 pm, the sun was just disappearing below the horizon as the buck slipped into the scrub brush and also disappeared. Ok, the distraction was now gone, come on Wildschwein! I went back to actively scanning the edge of the field. Five minutes later there he was again. The Reh was approximately 35 meters away, straining his neck to see the thresher in the field that he so desperately wanted to be in. I saw his antlers moving in the bushes. I knew if I was going to shoot, it would have to be a neck shot. I quietly picked up the rifle, drew down and placed the crosshairs on the neck. I slid the safety off and gently squeezed. A large roar and the Reh instantly disappeared. I knew it was a good shot and he was down. Waidmannsheil!
Now back to Wildschwein hunting. I continued to scan the edge of the field. Over the next half an hour, I watched two other Reh bucks come from behind me. First, a gobbler buck and another 6 point, but nothing was coming out of the raps. The Reh wanted to go into the raps, but were unsure of the thresher moving back and forth. At 930 pm, the farmer decided to call it quits for the night. I decided this was my chance to collect the Reh and drag it over to the stand, before settling in for a long night of wildschwein hunting.
As I walked over to where the Reh lay, I passed a small oak tree. I cut a branch to honor the buck with the rite of the “last bite”. Upon reaching the buck, I was shocked to find the largest Reh of my life, lying under a small bush. He had large well formed antlers, large buttons and a very grey face. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. I couldn’t imagine that I had almost let this capital buck walk by, without even giving him a second look or thought. I never looked at him through the binoculars. I didn’t even pay any attention to his antlers size, other than to see that he was a buck. As I gazed upon the buck, I felt the pain of remorse. I shot this magnificent animal as an afterthought during a Wildschwein hunt. I didn’t spend days, weeks or months pursuing this trophy buck, as many other hunters do.
I gave the Reh buck his last bite, and then called my hunting buddy, Reinhard. I told him I would be coming by with a capital Reh buck. He wished me “Waidmannsheil” and I replied “Waidmannsdank”. It was at that moment of camaraderie between fellow hunters, I realized it was the best wildschwein hunt I had ever been on. The best Wildschwein hunt I would most likely ever have and that this was one very special Wildschwein.
Figure 1 “Photo” The great Reh Buck trophy and his last bite.
Figure 2 “Photo” Mike Rundell and his capital Reh Buck.